Are You Feeling Out of Sorts?
What does feeling out of sorts look like for you? Do you recognise when your loved ones, family, friends and close colleagues are feeling stressed or anxious but struggle to make that connection for yourself? I used to struggle to do that and would often only realise how much I’d been struggling on reflection, after the event. Which wasn’t always very helpful ☹ Functioning effectively through depression or low mood is good in a functioning sense but is it good for your wellbeing? Has feeling out of sorts become so normal that you struggle to recognise what a good day is any more?
Think about a time when you were truly happy, with who you were, how your life was, about what work you did or maybe didn’t do and the people that helped to make you feel happy, content, blissful and confident 😊 How far from that person are you now? Some of life’s changes will be about growing older, changes in responsibilities and supporting family members and friends. If your happy time is when you were travelling as a younger person for instance, with very few life responsibilities then you won’t be able to replicate that feeling exactly because life will have moved on and you’re likely to have more responsibilities now than you did then. But how far away from that person and those feelings of happiness, contentment, bliss and confidence are you? Have life events eroded some of that, which is normal or is that kick ass chick or chap still in there fuelling your determination to live a full life?
We can all get a bit lost along the way, life is never going to be a straight line from A to B (what would be the fun in that!) but if those feelings of happiness and the energy to live a full life are still thriving within you, then you can re-connect with them. The first step is self-awareness and recognising where your current mood is. If you score your current level of happiness, one being ‘I’m just existing and only just getting by’ and ten being ‘I’m loving life, feeling happy and confident about who I am’, what number comes into your mind? If it’s a low number, you might be surprised by that as sometimes you can exist quite comfortably, unfortunately and not want more, and that can be a reflection on where your confidence level is at. If you’re scoring a high number, that’s fabulous, you can direct your development work towards other people who might be feeling out of sorts. By scoring your current mood, one to ten, you acknowledge how life is impacting your wellbeing and sense of self, which can prompt you to seek support, either formally or informally.
The Impact of Stress
In an earlier blog (link here) I talked about the impact of stress on each of the personality types and that can help you identify if someone is acting out of sorts. If a usually outgoing, expressive person becomes quieter and more introspective for an extended period, they are likely to be experiencing a level of stress or anxiety. If a usually quiet and introspective person starts to become louder and indignant for an extended period, stress is also likely to be a factor. But personality type is only one layer of who we are and sometimes an outgoing person will get even louder and a quiet person will get even quieter. It can be very hard to gauge where people are at! Knowing your own ‘out of sorts’ behaviour and being able to articulate that can be a great start to a wider conversation with family, friends and colleagues as to how they behave when they’re not feeling tip top.
You might say:
- “how would I know if you were struggling?”
- “what’s your go to thing, if you’re having a difficult time?”
- “what does your comfort zone look like if you’re feeling out of sorts?”
- “what does low mood look like for you?”
- “how do you unwind after a difficult day? What about a difficult week or month?”
- “how do you recognise if you’re struggling?”
Conversation, Kindness and Compassion Are Key
Understanding your own behaviours and talking to other people about them will make other people feel more safe and comfortable to do that too. The conversation can be helpful in itself, before any of those behaviours have even been demonstrated. If for instance, someone tells you that their go to thing is alcohol when they’re struggling, you might think to talk to them if they’re looking a bit jaded over a period of time. Please don’t say something like “are you drinking more? You did say that was your thing”, as that won’t endear anyone to open up to you but by recognising that alcohol and sleep are not good bedfellows, it might alert you to have a conversation with someone that you care about. If someone tends to shut themselves away during difficult times, please don’t say “come out with us, it’ll make you feel better!” as that’s highly unlikely to do the trick but offering to go for a coffee or engage in a more gentle, one to one pursuit might be an effective way to get someone to talk about how things are going.
We’re all different and so one’s person’s preference is another person’s discomfort but by talking about your own ‘out of sorts’ behaviour you can encourage other people to think about their own behaviours when they’re struggling. In a work environment you might say “what differences would we see in your behaviour if you were having a difficult week?”. We all know how we behave when we’re struggling, we just don’t really talk about it! But a conversation can make us feel more at ease about how we respond to more difficult times as we demonstrate the behaviours we’ve acknowledged, so everyone knows where we’re at. Although that can be the fear can’t it, that we let people know that we’re struggling, that we’re not as invincible as we like people to think. Yikes!
Sometimes it’s good to let someone get on with it, leave them be but offer support if it’s wanted, and other times a more assertive, “I’d really like to sit down and discuss this with you” might be required. Sometimes a ‘thinking of you’ is enough. But one thing’s for sure, with kindness and compassion, to yourself and other people, you can’t really go far wrong, out of sorts or not.
Take good care please, be kind to yourselves and others, and have a great day.
Best wishes, Karen